Sensual romance. Sensual romance is sweet and sexy sex, body parts touch, fluids mingle. It's usually short and vanilla. No toys, nothing too adventurous and the language is toned way down. He entered her. Is just about what you're going to get. And I have not one thing against this. I've written sensual romance. I read sensual romance. Sometimes I get tired of erotic and need something light. Or even without sex in it all together. Sensual is usually just that, a nice build up to a hot but not too hot sex scene that fits the plot.
Erotic romance differs from sensual in that the sex goes farther. It's much more graphic, the language is different, the scenes longer. The build up to sex is excruciating. Slow foreplay followed by all out hot and sweaty. Or just hot and sweaty. Cock, Pussy. Fuck. these words get used a lot by the writer, or not. You can be an incredible erotic romance writer and never once use any of the more graphic terms. I've read so many that walked that line between sensual and erotic that I'd just go ahead and push them over into erotic. BDSM without the word cock once. Yeah. I've read that. I like a really good sensual/erotic BDSM book much more than a full out graphic one. Erotic romance is more than just oooh fuck me harder. It involves all of the senses. Sight, scent, feel, smell, touch, and that mental connection of two (or three) people so caught up in each other that the world really could explode and they wouldn't know it. The sex in this type of romance is part and parcel to the plot. And that is what sets erotic romance apart from erotica, erotic romance has a full romantic plot that includes the sex, the sex is part of the story but not the whole story.
Erotica. Erotica is sex. Romantic sex but still sex. It's nothing but sex. Stripper comes to a bachelorette party (or as the Brits and Aussies call it a Hen party which I think is just awesome by the way) stripper and bride hook up for a night of hot kinky sex but that's all it is. There is no happy ever after or what have you. Now I've seen those that don't want to take that leap and add that A at the end of the word, throw in the happy ending, such as the stripper turned out to be the groom and it was for kicks and kinks. Avoiding the cheating taboo and giving it an HEA. I've read some very good erotica. Books so good I pulled them out for....ehem. Okey dokey then moving on. And I've read erotica so bad that its laughable or worse it crosses the line into porn.
Porn. Yes literary porn. Disguised as erotica. It's there. In certain books it's dangerous BDSM written by people who have no understanding of that lifestyle. Tie me up, beat me up, fuck me up books. Or erotica that is nothing but cum dripping from every surface for no other reason than because well, the writer just wanted to write sex scene after sex scene. And yes I've read these too. I used to find little gems hidden in a box of books dating back to the sixties, written by men for men. Pulp fiction at it's oh my god pulpiest. Modern attempts to break into the erotica ranks that goes too far. Some decent if that's what you're looking for. Most of it is really is just like watching a really bad porno with a fat guy and some eighteen year old over sexed bimbo with fake tits, you know real world stuff.
So this is me and my take on sex in the romance world. I like to think that I'm pretty good at setting the scene in both the straight and gay themed books I write. I write with the eye to seduce the character. One seducing the other yet falling under the thrall of the seductee. I've read reviews that include phrases about wet panties. And from guys....lalalalalala. Okay thank you for letting me know and you're welcome. But eep ;-) So I think I'm at least on the right track if not down right good at it. Yes I know the condom issues and the dirty talk that some of you want to hang me for. I know.
Recently I read this article http://www.lambdaliterary.org/features/06/20/book-lovers-whats-it-all-about-alfie/ . It's about the M/M romance genre versus the gay romance genre to which I didn't know there was a difference or that conflict existed. I did however know that until last year straight women who write m/m or even gay romance weren't allowed to enter the Lamba awards. My take on that was hmmm and I moved on. There are other contests out there after all. Anyway, what struck me in this article is this paragraph near the end:
"Jerry Wheeler says, “In order to be true to our identities as gay men, graphic sex should be part and parcel of romance because—let’s face it boys—it’s the natural and logical outcome of gay romance. Love and companionship are part of the deal, but when you really come down to it, it’s all about fucking from the get-go. That’s a generalization, of course, but I think it’s true in more instances than not. And unless gay romance embraces that and celebrates it, there’s an essential component missing.” Wheeler says, “In a way, it’s literary assimilation—a sacrifice of an essential part of our lives in favor of a wider societal acceptance—and it’s disingenuous.” Wheeler adds, “And if you’ve ever visited any of the m/m forums, the authors who write this stuff agonize over having to write gay male sex scenes—which totally invalidates their work to me.”Essentially that last sentence is what caught me the other day and that I'm still thinking about it tonight as I write this means that it hit something that has bothered me for a while now.
Okay without getting into the politics in this genre and sticking strictly to the topic of sex in romance, I'm going to try and see if I can put into words what bothers me most about that sentence with totally inducing mass rage.... A few years ago a young woman, and I do mean young, as in early twenties with aspirations of being a romance writer but without a rudder so to speak decided that she was going to write up a quick erotic story to submit to Kensington for that contest thing they used to do, send in a partial to be read and critiqued yadayada....anyway, I'd just sold my first erotic romance. Coming off of writing sensual romance. She asked my advice on how to go about it, and before I could answer she said you know I'm just going to sit down tonight and write a sex scene and cut and paste it in when ever I need it so that's not a problem thanks. After I picked my jaw up off the floor I told her you can't just cut and paste in sex, you have to work up to it....she'd already tuned me out, and I haven't seen her since, so I wonder how that turned out for her. Anyway, this goes along with what I've read on facebook time and time again. The dreaded sex scene. I hate writing sex scenes someone want to come write this for me. I suck at sex scenes. I don't like writing sex. This sex scene is dragging me down, let's go play words with friends or whatever.
For the record I love writing sex scenes. I build my books around sex scenes. Usually the very first fully formed scene I have in my head is the first sex scene. I don't know anything else about these two people but I know that they are going to have some hot and heavy first time sex in a.....truck, bed, tub, tree. And then I build the story from there. I write erotic romance. I think if I hated the actual erotic part of the romance I wouldn't be able to do the story justice. I can't write a generic sex scene and just plop it in to a story. And I can spot those that do it.
I'm no expert on sex. I've had it. Many times. For going on 24 years. I'm still pretty vanilla in my personal tastes. I'm not going to preach on the evils of sloppy uninteresting sex scenes. I'm not going to preach at all. I'm just going to say that if I buy a book that is listed as an erotic romance and I get one cookie cutter he stuck it in and pulled it out sex scene I'm not a happy person. I don't care what genre I'm reading.
To the guy in the quote all I can say is, well, yeah I know, it's about sex, I've spoken with so many men and tried to do my best to be as realistic as I can, but it comes down to what the confines of the romance genre. The HEA, the monogamous finding Mr. Right story. I think that I've tried to take that step toward real life but I stay with the safe I'm writing for women route. And that's the best I can do. After all it's all just fantasy. But try to write the best fantasy that you can. And really, I mean that, make it real. When you as a writer feel what you're writing then so does your reader. And if the best you can come up with is he pushed it in and pulled it out until they both came shouting each others name...then you need to find a new partner. If you as a writer don't come away from your sex scene with a bit of moisture in the tricot lining then I hate to tell you this, you're doing it wrong.